The 8-track tape (formally Stereo 8; commonly called eight-track cartridge, eight-track tape, and eight-track) is a magnetic-tape sound recording technology that was popular from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s, when the compact cassette tape, which pre-dated the 8-track system, surpassed it in popularity for pre-recorded music. The format is obsolete and was relatively unknown outside the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Japan. The main advantage of the 8-track tape cartridge was that it did not have to be "flipped over" to play other tracks.
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|Media type||Magnetic cartridge tape endless loop|
|Encoding||Stereo analog signal|
|Capacity||Four stereo channels|
|Read mechanism||Tape head|
|Write mechanism||Magnetic recording head|
|Developed by||Lear Industries|
|Extended from||Fidelipac / Mohawk cartridge|
The Stereo 8 Cartridge was created in 1964 by a consortium led by Bill Lear, of Lear Jet Corporation, along with Ampex, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Motorola, and RCA Victor Records (RCA - Radio Corporation of America). It was a further development of the similar Stereo-Pak four-track cartridge, which had been introduced by pioneering businessman and engineer Earl "Madman" Muntz, who promoted and sold consumer electronics to the American public at the time. Lear had tried to create an endless-loop wire recorder in the 1940s but gave up in 1946, only to be re-inspired by Muntz's four-track design in 1963. Muntz's design had itself been adapted from the Fidelipac cartridge, which in turn had been developed by George Eash. A later quadraphonic version of the format, with four-channel sound, as opposed to earlier, more widely used stereo/two-channel sound, was announced by RCA in April 1970 and called first Quad-8 and later Q8.